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Extradition Treaty Controversy Reignited As Elderly Couple Lose Case

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The 2003 UK-US Extradition Treaty has generated yet more controversy as an elderly British couple lose their fight to avoid the US justice system.

Grandparents Paul and Sandra Dunham, both in their late fifties, have lost their High Court battle to prevent extradition to the US where they face charges of fraud and money laundering.

The couple stated that their lives have been ‘shattered’ and that they have been ‘let down’ by the British justice system.

Background to the Dunham Extradition Case

Paul Dunham was employed by PACE, a US manufacturer of soldering irons for nearly 30 years. He originally worked for a UK subsidiary of the company but sometime around 2000 Mr Dunham and his wife relocated to the US so that he could take up a senior management position.

In 2005 PACE founder, the late William Siegel, removed his son Eric Siegel from his role at PACE and asked Mr Dunham to run the company. Later, in 2009 William and Eric Siegel reconciled and Eric Siegel was re-appointed to a position at PACE. Mr Dunham then resigned and he and his wife returned to the UK.

Subsequently Eric Siegel claimed that Mr Dunham, assisted by his wife, embezzled over $1m through false expenses claims made between 2002 and 2009. In December 2011 Mr Dunham was indicted by a grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland on 13 counts of fraud and money laundering. Mrs Dunham was indicted on 8 counts of fraud.

The couple have vehemently denied the allegations against them and suggested that the charges were disproportionate for an employment-related dispute. However, in the High Court extradition hearing Mr Justice Simon said that the allegations against them were not ‘trivial’. The Dunham’s lawyers have requested an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Why is US Extradition So Controversial?

The UK-US extradition treaty is controversial in the UK for a number of reasons including: the possibility that UK nationals can face US extradition for offences committed while in the UK; the standard of proof required and the way it is applied to extradition requests in each jurisdiction; and the lack of availability of legal aid to those extradited to the US. Various official reviews have considered these issues.

The Home Office's extradition review, by Sir Scott Baker a former Court of Appeal judge, concluded that there was no real difference between the US tests of "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion" and the UK tests. However, the Home Affairs Select Committee has acknowledged the low level of public confidence in the treaty and suggested that the way in which the tests are applied in each jurisdiction is not balanced.


Individuals threatened with extradition may face the fearsome prospect of being put in prison far from family and friends. Foreigners awaiting trial are often denied bail in the US as a flight risk, possibly for months or even years.

Anyone subjected to an extradition request should seek immediate legal advice.

For specialist advice contact Peter Gourri today by email or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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